Nature of the Contradiction: The 13th Annual Conference of the Marxist Reading Group, March 31-April 2

full name / name of organization: 
Marxist Reading Group, University of Florida
contact email:

In the current moment of economic and environmental crisis, the concept of sustainability has become a popular touchstone of both neoliberal and conservative agendas. Whether arguing for a green industrial revolution or economic dematerialization, both groups fail to realize the deeper contradictions between sustainability and capitalism’s mode of production. But if “we’re all environmentalists now,” as Neil Smith has suggested, it becomes necessary to engage ecological politics without participating in late capitalism’s appropriation of “green” rhetoric. In contrast, Green Marxism not only recognizes that in a capitalist system economic and environmental crises are codependent—so that for example the Wall Street meltdown is systemically related to the BP oil spill—it also argues that an ecological revolution must be associated with a larger social revolution. Green Marxism, then, challenges the logic of capitalism by placing ecology back into a historical and dialectical process.

The Thirteenth Annual Conference of the Marxist Reading Group investigates ecology from a Marxist perspective and challenges Marxist scholars to clarify and explore the contradictions implicit in ecological politics. How does ecology help us confront or interpret the irrational rationalizations, as David Harvey says, of an always unstable capitalism? How can the problems of ecology, when embedded in a historical and economic process, help us question the rhetoric of capitalism’s “natural limits”? Rather than place environmental concerns ahead of class relations, how does a Marxist ecology help articulate the complex set of social relations that result in environmentally perverse ramifications (i.e., capital accumulation at a compound rate)?

John Bellamy Foster is Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon and the Editor of Monthly Review. He is the author of The Ecological Rift (2009), The Great Financial Crisis (2009), The Ecological Revolution (2009), Ecology Against Capitalism (2002), and Marx’s Ecology (2000).

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

•reification of the environment
•green industrial revolution
•the Green New Deal and American environmental policy
•“ecological debt” divided among First, Second, and Third World countries
•the triangulation of imperialism, development, and global labor
•intersections of socialist feminism and green Marxism
•literary and cultural representations of radical environmentalism
•utopic responses to ecological crises
•socialism and the development of anti-capitalist practices in the Global South
•grass-root, anti-capitalist movements including locavorism and •deindustrialized farming
•arguments against nostalgic nature
•human geography and the greening of the geographical left
•rethinking “human” nature in terms of technology and post-humanism
•architectural theory and urban planning that addresses issues including urbanization, bioregionalism, and uneven development
•the shifting space of labor, telecommuting, and no-collar workers
•the potential efficacy of queerness as a strategy for destabilizing hierarchical and essentialist paradigms endemic to capitalist narratives about sustainability and Nature

Please submit a 250-word abstract (and some subject keywords) for a 20-minute presentation along with a short bio and contact information to by January 7, 2011. Please indicate any a/v requirements (DVD player and data projection available). Authors of accepted papers will be notified by February 7, 2011. For questions concerning the conference, please contact us at For information on previous conferences, please check out our site:

cfp categories: 
modernist studies